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tv   Book Discussion  CSPAN  November 9, 2014 9:30am-11:03am EST

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the reports that are coming in are amazing. as a sometime this afternoon there were more than 500 buses of people heading toward new york city. this is going to be just not the largest climate demonstration there ever was but it's going to be the biggest political gathering of any kind in this country in a great many years. and then the next day and the next morning people will be down on wall street, flooding wall street, and that would be great and powerful and -- [applause] >> earlier today a reporter asked me, why are you doing all those? and i said, because we really have to give naomi's book a great launch. [laughter] and this is the greatest book, authors are forever complaining about how the books don't get, a publisher has done in a. the publisher this -- 200,000
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people coming to new york for your book launch. and in this case it is entirely appropriate because this is a really, really important book. its title is i think exactly right. i think this book will go a long ways towards changing things. and i think that's because, uniquely, naomi has been able to realize something that's hard to grasp, which is that climate change is not sort of one more problem on a list of problems that we need to take off and do something about. it's a lens through which to understand the world we live in now. it's a way of grasping what it is that everything adds up to, the power relationships on our
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planet. the way that wealth and power are distributed. they are all reflected in every cubic meter of air around us. that's what those numbers mean when we say that the air is 400 parts per million co2. that doesn't tell us that much about the air we scientists have been warning us for, telling us recorder of a century exactly what that means. want to tell us is a lot. a lot about what we've allowed to happen on our planet, and what we need to change. because we can't change those basic numbers without changing an awful lot else. and naomi, no surprise since she's a great thorough thinker of our time, the author of two
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previous, the most important books of political and economic thinking that we have yet had. no surprise that she has dug as deep as she could, and the result is spectacular, spectacular book that will teach you a great deal as you read it. she's going to be signing copies of it afterwards. very, very important to get the signature of an author in a book, i must tell you. [laughter] but in this case actually, don't just take it home. put it on the shelf, even if you know a lot about climate change. even if you think i don't need to read another book. you're completely wrong. this book will instruct you in so many ways. and the best part of it is that naomi, again, fairly uniquely
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among riders, is not just committed to writing about things. she's committed to changing them herself. she has been a stalwart part of this fight. it's been an amazing experience to have her on the board at, even more amazing experience to go to one rally after demonstration after a rest, and whatever, in her company. and see the intelligence and good humor and penetrating, penetrating insight that she brings to each of them. for me, a great grade teacher. and a great, great partner in movements. when she goes out there to sign books, she will be sitting next to josh russell who will be selling copies of the book about a line in the tar sands that
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clay wrote a chapter four, and other people. she's using this book to build this movement, and that's what we need. because if we are going to change everything, it's going to take great writers. but more importantly, more importantly it's going to take those great writers inspiring all the rest of us to go to work. our only hope at this point in a ravaged world is movement big enough to scare our leaders as much as they are scared of the money power of the fossil fuels industry. and if we can raise that kind of movement, then we have no guarantee but at least a fighting chance. and there is no one who has done more to raise that movement and to bring all the movements together that we need to have as a part of this one big movement, to understand that this is not
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an environmental issue, that this is an issue, a crisis that calls on every strand of human society to do their part. no one has understood that better than naomi, and when you read this book you will understand why this is a signal event tonight. i'm so happy to introduce naomi klein. [applause] >> hey, everybody. wow. what an honor to be here tonight. what an honor to be introduced by my dear friend, bill mckibben. i'll never forget that introduction, and as i say in the notion of the book, though, you wrote most of this decades
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ago, and i love being in this fight with you. clayton, thank you for opening this evening in such a beautiful way. this is a family affair. some of my best friends, almost all my best friends are here. my family is here. my teachers are here. the people who inspired this book in so many ways are here. the people who contributed to this book, who edited this book. so thank you all for being here for this very meaningful launch. for the project. and if i think everybody who i owe a debt to, it would use up all my time so i'm just going to do a few ones. i of course want to thank the new school and mary watson, the "nation" magazine, and the nation institute and peter rothberg for incredible work bringing this night together.
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michael primo, and incredible activist who i first met at occupy wall street, he inspired me so much and we are so blessed to be working with him on this project of figuring out how this book and the film that goes with it can really be a tool for movements. michael primo is an incredible bridge and he built this night bringing together an amazing panel of activists and artists and thinkers to make this not a regular book launch. this is not just couldn't be me talking at you putting forward a theory about how climate change can spark a transracial movement and we're going to have a panel where you will hear from some of the finest thinkers and leaders who are already doing it. and i'm very excited to be sharing the stage with them.
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my editor is here, robert bender. i don't know where you are, bob, thank you so much for all of your dedication to this project. and i want to thank everybody at simon & schuster, especially julia foster who also did a lot to make this evening possible. i want to name a few more people from our film and web team who are here at katy mckenna, alex kelly, joshua barnes, martin lucas, the whole beautiful solutions team who you're going to be hearing from. everywhere i look ijc another person who i love and who i have to thank. this is, there are two people here who i really want to single out for some extra investment ago. and some people have been kind enough to call this book a
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manifesto, a call for revolutionary change. that may be, but if it is it is one that is heavily, heavily and noted. it is trouble fact checked, legally vetted, reviewed by top scientists and scholars, and the reason for that is that i've been working with two of the most extraordinary researchers. would you please stand up? [cheers and applause] and alexander tempest, please stand up. [applause] these are my closest colleagues on this project, and it was a lonely, long journey but you guys made possible in so many ways, and every page of the book is enriched with your dedication. notebook is bulletproof as we know, but i feel better being out there with you having my
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back. so, friends, much too many, many to many friends to mention, but there are a few here who i just want to mention. catherine weiner, melina who is a dear friend and also somebody who taught me so much about the tar sands. this great wounded in the middle of my country. and betsy reed, my friend and editor at the nation. as i said, this is a family affair. my parents are here. i don't know where they are, bonnie and michael klein. hey, mom and dad. i haven't even had a chance to say hello to them. my in-laws are here, michelle and stephen. my husband is here somewhere, although i think he might be spending the entire evening in the hallway with my two year old son. you read about him if you read
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the book. and as i said this isn't going to be the usual format of the book launch which are just beginning a lecture and then two and a. it's going to be followed by a panel discussion on going to try to keep my remarks a little briefer than usual. so i want to just give you a pretty quick, start with this, a fairly quick thesis of the book. which some of you may have heard in other formats, but here's the bottom line. i'm convinced that climate change represent a historic opportunity, a historic opportunity and the scale of the new deal but far more transformative and just. as part of a project on getting our emissions down to the levels many scientists recommend, we want to can have a chance to advance policies detrimental to
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improve lives, close the gaps between rich and poor, create huge numbers of good jobs and reinvigorate democracy from the ground up. rather than the ultimate example of the shock doctrine, the subject of my last book, a frenzy of new resource grabs and repression, climate change can be a people's shock, a blow from below. that can disperse power in the hands of the many rather than consolidating it in the hands of a few. and radically expand the comments rather than auctioning it off in teaching. and work right wing shock doctors exploit emergency both real and manufactured, in order to push the policies that make us even more crisis prone, the kinds of transformations we must advance would do the exact opposite. they would get to the root of why we are facing serial crises in the first place to so
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psychologically and economically. and would leave us with a more habitable climate than one we are headed for, and a far more just economy than the one we have right now. because as bill said, underneath it all is the real truth that we've been avoiding. climate change isn't an issue to add to the list to worry about next to health care and taxes. it is a civilizational wakeup call, a powerful message spoken in the link of fires, floods, droughts and extinction. telling us that we need an entirely new economic model, and a new way of sharing this planet, telling us that we have to evolve. i called the book "this changes everything" because if we stay on the road we are on, scientists tell us, but not just scientists, some of the most establishestablish ment institution in the world, the world bank, the international
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energy agency, pricewaterhousecoopers tell us we're on a road leading to warming up for the six degrees celsius. and that happens if we just do nothing. we don't have to do anything special, just keep on the road we're on. they call this business as usual but, of course, it's not business as usual because to stay on that road map to double down on the dirtiest fossil fuels, natural gas from fracking, mountaintop removal, coal mining. that's the road we're on. that's the bad news. if we stay on that road everything changes about our physical world. four to six degrees warming celsius is not compatible with anything that we understand is an organized society. the models start to break down. they don't know what would happen to they don't even know how to predicted but did you know it's going to involve mass
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crop goes, huge sea level rise. you know the drill. i'm not here to scare you. the good news is there is still time to stop catastrophic warming. we know we've already locked in a certain amount of warming. we are already experiencing it, but it is not too late to lower our emissions in time to avoid those catastrophic outcomes, or at least to give ourselves a pretty good chance. scientists like kevin anderson and alex lloyd been who i quote a lot in the book, tell us if we want to do that, we need to cut our emissions in the wealthy world by about eight to 10% a year. that's a lot. that's a lot and here's the catch but if you want to do this we have to pretty much change everything about our economic system and our legal system. because that level of emission reduction challenges the core
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logic at the heart of our economic system and that is the logic of unfettered growth and expansion. so if we want to avoid that outcome, what does it mean to change everything politically? well, it means we have to start breaking the rules of this free market ideology, the so-called free market ideology, that has dominated our lives are going on for decades. and i spent a lot of time in the book outlining decisive how, what we need to do in the face of climate change, directly challenges the argued that anyone who's read my previous books and notes, we all know what this stuff is. its privatization, deregulation, cuts to government spending, sometimes called austerity and, of course, the free trade deals that lock at all in. so i go through this in the book quite systematically showing have those free trade deals make many of the things, many of the
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climate actions we are to take illegal. how governments are being shouted at the world trade organization when it is good climate policy. or when they decide to close off carbon frontiers and dan fracking. they get sued in international trade court. but we know what we need to do. we need to plan the kinds of economies we want. when i say challenges growth, destiny that everything has to contract. quite the opposite. it means we have to contract the parts that are at war with the earth and expand those parts of our economy that are already low carbon, like the caregiving professions, like education, like the arts. we need to expand these parts of our economy not just because they are low carbon but these are parts of our economy that will allow us to care for one another as we encounter this heavy weather that will inevitably come. responding to climate change also flies in the face of the logic of austerity, that we have
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all been living with for so long and that has accelerated so much since the economic crisis in 2008. the fact we're told all the time that our governments are broke and we have to pay the price. i'm always amazed when people say, people won't take action on climate change because people are selfish and they won't make sacrifices in the name of an abstract goal. really? people are giving up their pensions, their health care, in candidate we're being asked to give up the fact that they still deliver our mail. and income we're being asked to give up so much in the name of an abstract concept like austerity, announcing the budget. people are making no end of sacrifices. i think we would make a few sacrifices in the name of saving our shared homes if those sacrifices were equitably imposed. obviously we need to challenge the logic of austerity if we're
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going to respond to this crisis because we need massive investment in the public sphere. we need massive investment because here in new york city you know what it means for heavy weather to collide with weak public infrastructure. you saw it during superstorm sandy. you saw what it meant to be dependent on a state that wasn't there accountability in public housing that have been allowed to decay. the same thing that a man in new orleans when heavy weather collided with the collected levies. that's what turned a disaster into a catastrophe. we need to invest and reinvent our public sphere. the logic of austerity is incompatible with climate action. it's not just about preparing for the storm's. it's about getting off fossil fuels. the huge superstructure projects we need to reimagine our cities, to build good public transit, and to roll out the renewable technologies that are already,
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the technology is there. it's getting cheaper. we know it works. we can look to a country like germany, which now has 25% of its electricity supplied by renewable energy. this happened in a matter of a few years, that it happened so quickly and we hear this story but one of the things we don't hear about germany's incredible renewable energy transformation is that one of the recent is happening is that in hundreds of cities and towns in germany, people have voted or the governments have severely decided that they must take back their energy systems from the private corporations that have privatized them in the 1990s. because the private companies were not interested in the renewable energy transition because it as problem. they had to take their power back, and this is happening in small towns, also in big cities like hamburger. people are discovering that the logic of privatization is incompatible with what we need to do. we need control over our
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comments but we also need to reinvent it so it is genuinely accountable to us. a few more of the ways in which this class plays out. we have to relearn the art of saying no to multinational corporations. we seem to have lost this art just as we lost the art of economic planning. one of the things about the german transition is that as remarkable as it is compact and have 25% of their electricity coming from renewables, but emissions are still going up. why? because at the same time as they put great incentives in place to say yes to renewables, they still won't, the angela merkel government will still not stand up to the fossil fuel lobby and say no to coal. they continued to ignite coal and as demand drops, they just exporter same thing in this country. it's taken obama three years now to just say no to the keystone xl pipeline. they have lost the ability to do
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this. but we need to help them rediscover it because what we need to do is close off these new carbon frontiers. and in absence of that political leadership people are doing this to themselves. they are blocking the pipeline. they are winning fracking moratoriums. they are blocking new coal export terminals. but we need to go further than that. we need to say no drilling in the arctic. we need to expand the moratoriums into vans and we need to expand them from being just in one state to being across our country. to fight climate change we had to fight inequality. within our countries and between them. the panel will talk more about this specifically, and with some of the leading thinkers on this question. some of the people who really inspired this book for me, when i heard the concept of ecological debt, one of the key thinkers who came up with the
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concept of ecological debt and climate debt. it's pretty simple. countries like ours got a 200 years head start on a knitting carpets. there is a finite carbon budget. there is a right to exit poverty, to address the unequal exchanges that were built between our nations powered by fossil fuel. superpowered by fossil fuels in the early days of the burning of coal. and esperanto will lay out an inspiring vision for how addressing climate change can and must heal it was a globalism, and turn the world right side up. in our own countries we will not stop this fossil fuel frenzy and less indigenous people and people of kabul and low income communities have real options and are not being asked to choose between poverty and pollution to that is an impossible choice.
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frontline communities are telling us, it's not enough just to stop the bad projects. we need real economic alternatives and the communities. the principle has to be that the people who have suffered the most under a toxic economy has to be first in line to benefit from the positive transitions to the new economy. all of this is possible. more than that it's desirable. because the only, the problem with our economic model is not something it is make world warmer. it is that our world is brutal, and as it warms come if we don't change the system, it will become more brutal. if we make this change, if we do this call, we have an opportunity to change our world for the better in so many ways. this will leave us with more livable cities, stronger communities, healthier bodies.
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all you have to do is go to any of the countless pockets of resistance. the countless pockets, the places where people aren't waiting for their leaders to change things for them at a just doing it themselves. they're doing it at the neighborhood level, at the city level. they are doing at the town level at the transition to movement. you go to these places where these transitions are happening, and they are some of those joyful places you can visit. there is so much pride in what is being built. the sense of community and camaraderie, the rebuilding of our freight public sphere is so palpable. we have this project that is on the website, this changes called beautiful solutions but we're working with you wonderful group of writers and activists who are highlighting some of the beautiful solutions. if you want to check that out and we'll hear from them a little bit later on.
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but beautiful pockets are not enough. we need the alternative to multiply rapidly, and that can only happen if these pockets of alternatives are supported by laws at every level. at the city level, state and provincial level, the national level and at the international level. so why isn't this happening? we know why. because our leaders are locked into this logic. it's more easy for them to imagine geoengineering the climate and turning down the center that to them is more realistic than rolling out a renewable energy program at the national skip putting up solar panels. this is what passes for realism. we need a new definition of realism. one grounded in the reality of what out at mr. can take. one grounded in the reality of what our oceans can take.
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one grounded in the reality of what our community can take. one grounded in the reality of what our bodies can take. thresholds are being reached. and we know it. the earth is fighting back your it is convulsing under the pressures of replacing under it. it is expressing that in the rising of the seas and storms and droughts. here's the good news. we are starting to fight back. we are starting to convulse. we, too, are reaching a threshold of how much we will take and we are starting to express that. and use it in those frontline battles, the resistance to the pipeline, to the export terminals, defrocking, to this transnational space that some of us have started to call blockade the. we are going to sit on sunday in the streets when hundreds of
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thousands of people gather to sound was being called the climate alarm. to express the urgency that our leaders seem not to feel in the face of this ex-essential crisis. and we are going to see it on monday at flood wall street when we take the fight to the multinational corporations, to the belly of the beast, to the heart of the logic that would sacrifice everyone and everything in the name of profit, including the life-support systems on which we all depend. the storms are not just coming, my friends. the storms are already here. i end the book with in an account about some time i spent in greece while we were filming for our documentary, and we went to greece because greece is the
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european country that children most ravaged by the logic of austerity, and people have been asked to sacrifice so much on the altar of economic crisis. and we've heard the stories, the slashing of salaries, a mass layoffs, the ravaging of public education and health care. ..
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>> and they're doing some fantastic things, and they're an incredible voice against austerity. but they haven't drawn the connections yet with climate change. and so they're not opposing the drilling for oil, they're just saying, well, no, we shouldn't pay the creditors, we should use it for pensions. so those connections aren't being made. and i think that's true in so many of our movements, that we're failing the make these obvious connections, and we need to make them now. we need to understand when people are rioting, demanding free transit in rio, those are climate activists even if they don't call themselves climate activists, even if they never use the word climate change. we need to build these bridges. so i was having dinner with a group of friends in athens the night before i was going to interview the leader of this left political party.
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and i asked them, what should i ask him? if you were sitting across the table from him, what would you ask him? they suggested a bunch of possible questions, and then someone said ask him history knocked, did you answer? and i wrote that one down. and i thought, that is a really good question. history is knocking, will we answer? thank you. [applause] >> well, as promised. all right. for a moment, put the analytical side of your brain to rest for a moment. the environmental movement has
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been better at appealing to the side of our brain that deals with statistics and pie charts and things and less good historically at involving the kind of, the heart and the soul. but that's changing. it's changing because of the way that naomi brings passion and commitment. it's changing because of the things that people are doing. i was over in bushwick this afternoon at the warehouses and lofts where they're building all the floats and banners and things for sunday and monday's festivities. wait until you see what's coming. it's going to make the rose bowl parade look like nothing. [laughter] this is asson you shoulding stuff that they've got going. and in a few seconds, we're going to hear from a remarkable singer who's part of a remarkable project. our friend, reverend lennox yearwood, of the hip-hop caucus
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who has been the most stalwart part of this climate fight for many years, those of you who shivered in the cold at the forward on climate rally in washington, d.c. a year ago will remember that -- [laughter] [applause] he kept us all warm as we kind of moved back and forth. he was our emcee, and he's sort of the voice of that movement. anyway, he's got the hip-hop caucus together this summer to enlist artists of national caliber to produce a record album that'll be out, it's either out today or tomorrow or something. and it's mostly covers of great environmental songs by artists today. you might remember her from rent where she was a star, you might have heard her hit single, "hold up, wait a minute," but what she's going to be known for, i
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think, as much as anything else going forward is the version she did of what is the greatest environmental song probably of all time, marvin gaye's "mercy me," which came out in 971. it came -- 1971. it came out six or seven weeks from joni mitchell's big yellow taxi which is probably the other candidate for that title. also covered on this album by carmen. but marvin gaye's song was a really signal moment. it was a moment when it was not at all strange as it sort of would a few years later for our most popular to be singing about fish full of mercury and so on and so forth. that's the spirit that's coming back to this movement. the people who organized this march on sunday, above all, are
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the environmental justice community groups in this city. people like elizabeth pierre and ed key lap tease that and -- eddie lap tease that and in, many others, and it's that kind of beat and that kind of sound that we need to get back in the, back in business. john denver's all very well and good, but it's pretty wonderful to have marvin gaye back in operation as well. so here comes antonique smith. [applause] >> hi, everybody. is that my mic? hi. good evening. >> hi. >> i'm so excited to be here.
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this is such, i mean, one of the most important causes we could possibly talk about because all our lives are at stake with this thing. thank you, bill and naomi, for having me. this signing i'm about to sing is 30 years old, but the words are even worse today than they were when marvin gaye wrote it, and it's kind of crazy to just listen to him, maybe things would be better and not worse. today i'm going to sing "mercy, mercy me." ♪ oh,. ♪ ♪
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♪ oh, mercy, mercy me, oh, things ain't what they used to be. ♪ oh, where did all the blue skies go, poison is the wind that blows from the north and and east. ♪ oh, mercy, mercy me, oh, things ain't what they used to be, no. ♪ oh i sit on the ocean and upon our seas, fish full of mercury. ♪ oh, mercy, mercy me, oh, things ain't what they used to be. ♪ radiation underground and in
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the sky, animals and birds who live nearby are dying. ♪ oh, mercy, mercy me, oh, things ain't what they used to be. ♪ what about this overcrowded land, how much more abuse from man can she stand? ♪ oh, oh, mercy, mercy me, this ain't how it's supposed to be. ♪ oh, oh, oh, mercy, mercy me.
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♪ oh, oh, mercy, mercy me, oh! ♪ oh, oh, mercy, oh
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[applause] fantastic. what did i tell ya? [applause] so, you think we're going to win now or not? i think we're gonna win. we're gonna win because other side in this fight has all the money, and that usually is enough to triumph, but not always. and when passion and spirit and creativity and sheer number of bodies come together, there's some possibility of matching that kind of currency with the currency of our own. and that's what movements are about. that's what naomi's book is about and what the organizing that she's done with so many is about. we're going to wring up some --
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bring up some of the people that exemplify that kind of organizing to show you how this is not your old school environmental movement. we're kicking it in very new ways now. and powerful ways. and with people who have been doing this so long and with such integrity and with such power, michael leon ger arrow, you guys come up as we're introduced this panel here. [applause] national coordinator of the our power campaign, he worked forever through the southwest organizing project which everybody knows about. cofounded, served as the national coordinator of the grassroots global justice alliance, connecting -- [applause] u.s. grassroots organizations to international social movements. he, if you went to some of those u.s. social forums, that was --
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he played a key role there. executive director of unity and alliance of alliances, organizing in different sectors, working class communities of color. he's an important, important leader in this fight. so is estella vasquez. she's the executive -- [applause] vp of 3199 -- 1199 seiu. let's give it up for the service employees. [applause] the largest health care union in the country, the largest union local in the country. if you've ever fallen i ill, ye, it's stella's people who have been taking care of you. she came from the dr where she was politically active back in the fight against trujillo. and ever since, well, she got out of jail there and came here
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and commenced doing the kind of things that'll probably get her back in jail eventually -- [laughter] but that's precisely what we need. and she stands among other things for the profound role that the labor movement is playing more and more in fight. and when you watch people marching on sunday, watch for those big labor contingents. that's going to send a chill, the sense of power gathering. clayton, where are you? clayton thomas muller. [applause] he introduced himself a little bit before. let me just say in response -- in introduction of clayton that there is nobody that we've worked more closely with at 350 over the last four or five years. when we wanted to get involved in the work around tar sands, the very first person i called was clayton and said is it all
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right if we join this effort you've got working because they've been fighting up there in the tar sands longer than anybody and better. they are pros in every way. and, you know, those guys up there thought they had it, the oil companies thought they would never have any problem, they had so much money and so much political power. but they are now caught up in all that mucky tar, they can hardly move forward at all, and it's mostly because of what clay and his comrades have been doing up there. so many, many thanks, brother. [applause] and esperanza martinez, a name we talked about a little bit, can cofounder of accion ecologica. [applause] she comes from ecuador where she has been fighting chevron hard, and i gotta say, chevron, it's
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possible in this sweepstakes for the worst company on earth that chevron might be right up there. they, you know, monsanto, they've got some competition. but they are, they're bad, tough, vindictive folks who have fought like crazy to avoid being held accountable for the damage they did down there and who damaged the lives of people all around the world. she's done amazing work that campaign amazon for life focused on the protection and defense of a national park, a place that may have more biodiversity than any spot on earth. also, sadly, has a big pool of oil underneath it. so, of course, for a lot of people who run oil companies, all that biodiversity mattered not at all, and the whole plan was to go dig it up and drill for oil, and they have fought like crazy. that amazing plan to leave that
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deposit of oil underground that she helped develop, that fight that is still going on, a big grassroots initiative to gather signatures in ecuador to force her refer dumb. the government, of course, trying to make it difficult. she's here to take that fight to the united nations. and it's not just a fight for that rain forest, like all these other fights, like the fight for the tar sands, like the fight all over the world, it's also a fight for our atmosphere. we are all part of that fight. this is ap amazing panel that -- an amazing panel that nomemy is going to interrogate for your edification. i just want to thank all of them for being here and all of you for being here and just to say we'll see you on the streets sunday and monday. this is going to be one hell of a weekend. [applause]
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>> thank you, bill. is my mic working? hey, everybody, again. i want to thank antonique one more time for sharing her tremendous talent with us and this amazing panel for being here. i was just remembering, esperanza, that we watched the swamp doctor together in -- [inaudible] okay. mic's not good? mic's not hot? well, i've got the mic on. all right. okay. how's that? yeah? can you hear me up there at the top? good. so what we wanted to do with this, with this night is turn to the real experts who are fighting every day for a just response to climate change, for a response to climate change
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that heals our world and that fights the crisis of inequality and racism, and this is an incredible group of people to talk about that. i want to start first with michael who has a huge amount of firsthand experience in what a lot of people call just transition. which is not an abstract theory, it's happening in communities like richmond, it is happening with projects like the water coalition, and i just wonder, michael, if you can sketch out for this audience here how you see the can connections between -- the connections between fighting inequality, deep inequality and fighting climate change. how do these issues supercharge each other? >> sure. oh. [laughter] >> someone's mic's working.
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>> that's why yours isn't. [laughter] first of all, thank you for the book. it's, it makes so many connections that it's almost hard to, like, know where to start, you know? i think just looking back over the history that you talk about and the whole trajectory over the 40 years of the project and what it's meant, and i think those of us who have been organizing, have been activists, we've been struggling with that every day. and for it to come full circle and make this connection in terms of climate, i think, really fundamentally names what the problem is. and that clash between the economic system that just doesn't match what we need to do in order to save the planet. so i just want to really thank you for that. i grew up in the environmental justice movement, and for many years in the state of new mexico was organized and with communities that were fighting, you know, on the front lines of polluting industries that were being poisoned by them.
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and that grew into a big national movement and global movement, and later with the global justice movement as well that was fighting this whole issue around global capital and neoliberalism. so i've seen a lot of -- [inaudible] in terms of victories that we see every day and struggles that people take on every day. my newest organization that i'm working for now is called the climate justice alliance, and the climate justice alliance, it's interesting how you name in the book copenhagen and the u.n. summit in copenhagen kind of being a wake-up call for the climate movement. and i think that was for many of the environmental justice activists, it was also true. and the alliance was actually started as a result of that, the disillusionment with the process. and out of that this alliance of 40 now organizations around the country came together with a new vision which is the vision that you lay out in this book. it's how do we actually rebuild our communities? how do we transform our economy?
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because, clearly, it's on a collision path with what we need to do to save the planet. how do we do that? and understanding the challenges we have many our national government, the federal government right now to be able to get a new deal program like that. we thought, well, let's start where we have our strengths, and that's at the local level. let's start in communities around the country to build these kind of policies, to build upon the alternative that people are working on every day that ultimately can put pressure on our national government and international governments as well. so that was, basically, the fundamental idea, and so we're seeing it, as you mentioned, some communities that we're working in we have six what we call pilot sites around the country where we're working now, and then we're inviting other communities to jump in as well. >> can you talk a little bit about those private spots? >> you mentioned richmond, california, is one. it's home to one of the largest che on refineries -- >> got a chevron connection.
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>> got a chevron connection. and basically -- recently, in fact, this year we had our national convening there. and it was the one-year anniversary of the huge exemploying that took place -- explosion that took place at the chevron refinery last year. in terms of organizing work, groups that are doing urban farms and gardening, the collaborations that are happening between labor unions, workers even within plant with communities outside, organizations like the asia-pacific environmental network, communities for a better environment, environmental justice organizations, you have unions, you have, you know, student organizations and just a whole range of ways you see the community coming together around an agenda which is to change the economy of the city. of course, it's not going to be easy. we know that. but at least there's that vision, there's that resolve. and i think if there's anything in terms of the message for us, it's not just about the hope
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that people are coming to new york other the weekend, it's also the resolve that they're coming with and the resolve that we need to leave with. you also mentioned black mesa water coalition which is on the navajo reservation or the navajo nation that has an old generating station which is not owned by the navajo nation, by the way. it's a private company that's fueled by peabody coal. and it also powers the central arizona project which basically is a big water reservoir that runs through the state of arizona. black mace saw water coalition is a grassroots organization of native people that have been working to transition the navajo generating station to a solar project. and at the same time, they're also doing different projects on the navajo nation for sustainable agriculture, for developing sustainable cooperatives like wool, solar, all those different kind of things. so folks are working at different levels pote in terms
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of developing alternatives, and at the same time building political power so we can do, as you say, back those up with resources, laws, policies, etc. i'll just name the other sites that we have as private sites right now. in the state of kentucky, kentuckians for the commonwealth which will show up in numbers this weekend, operation jackson building off of -- [inaudible] administration and their vision for a different jackson, mississippi. there's detroit, east michigan environmental action council is going to be showing numbers here, and -- help me, who am i missing? southwest workers' union, san antonio, texas, also. managed to get a ban on fracking in the county -- [applause] but are also developing a whole range of -- [applause] >> i have one short follow-up question which is, um, i talked about some of the, this new spirit that we see in the
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climate on justice movement, and i think people know, are knowing who their enemies are a -- okay. is there any -- if i hold it right here? okay, that's what we'll do. so what i was saying is part of this new kind of fighting spirit in the climate movement has been the uncredible rise of the fossil fuel divestment movement. i know it's active right here on campus. we're it would -- [applause] they are working -- we're told they are working on it. you know, this has spread to hundreds of campuses, faith organizations, dozens of cities have announced they're going to divest from fossil fuels. it's really exciting. a lot of people are even more excited about the investment piece of the fossil fuel divestment movement. and i'm wondering how you see that intersecting with your work. because, you know, there's been a critique of the divestment movement. like, okay, if harvard moves its money from exxon, someone else
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will buy it, and it's not going to hurt exxon. but if that money gets moved from exxon to some of these climate justice projects, this next economy as some people are calling it or the regenerative economy, that could make a huge dumps. what do you see the potential -- difference. what do you see the potential it has there? >> i think there is a lot of potential. we're actually working with and a number of foundations, university student organizations also because of exactly what you say. we have these different models that are being with developed around the country. if they have resources to be able to support those models and show that they work, that, i think, is a huge thing. so i think it's a very exciting development both to see the divest movement, but also the other side of that which is where do we actually then put those resources and use those resources to empower communities rather than disempower communities and empower
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corporations which is what the history has been? >> okay, thanks. so i want to go to you next, ethe stella. mic. >> yeah, is there anybody here, still here who -- >> you know, if someone can just grab a handheld, it'd be a lot easier. it's tough in this room, it really is. much easier. >> perfect. everyone hear me? [applause] all right. so, estella, i want to put a sum question to you that i put to michael. and i think it's a trickier one which has to do with the role of labor in the climate fight. it's trickier because, of course, there's been a lot of tensions traditionally between labor unions and environmentalists. it's the oldest fight. these constituencies are so
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often pitted existence each other. we've seen it get pretty ugly around the keystone xl fight. and yet there's going to be a huge labor contingent on sunday, and i just want to hear your thoughts on how, on how -- what climate change can mean to the labor movement. do you think that this crisis can be a catalyst for a new wave of labor organizing, how does this go beyond green jobs? what does it mean to you? >> what it means to our members in 1199 is huge. and, first, let me say thank you for inviting -- for having a labor presence here today. we are mobilizing not only 1199, but multiple unions in the city. and i would like to say that not all of labor has taken so long to come to the conclusion that this fight for mother earth is a
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workers' fight. [applause] we cannot talk about jobs, we cannot talk about jobs when children in our community whether it's in east harlem or in the south bronx show the largest percentage of cases of asthma in the city of new york. what is the sense of having a job when you don't have a backyard where you can sit and breathe the air because you will be choking to death? that doesn't make any sense. [applause] in terms of health care workers union in the city, two years ago we saw it in the hospitals where we work. our members evacuated new york hospital in the east side in the middle of the night having to carry patients, newborn babies from the 12th floor without elevators. and we not only saw it in the
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hospitals where we work, we saw it in the communities where we live. brooklyn, rockaway, new jersey, in staten island. our home care workers, you know, were trapped in the homes of the clients, or they could not go and work. and for days those members of ours had to live in public housing were trapped in buildings without electricity, without running water, without in some cases medication that they needed. so for the realization that the fight of labor is not only for workers' right in the workplace, but it is for human rights in the community we live, and it is for environmental justice in the city and in the countries and in the planet that we live. we have a very diverse membership in 1199, so we have
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members from the philippines that experienced last year the devastation of typhoon haiyan, also referred to in the media as hurricane yolanda. we have members from guyana in south america where rising sea levels are threatening the very existence of that country. so it is a natural for us the say that environment is not something abstract where the -- [inaudible] the environmental world is where we live, where we work and where we play. therefore, the fight for climate change or climate justice is one that is natural to earth. because the same people that are exploiting the earth, that 1% of the 1% are the same people that are denying workers' rights in this country and oppressed workers all over the world.
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[applause] so for labor, this is our fought. [applause] >> and do you have any thoughts that you would want to share about what it will take to bring, to bring more parts of the labor movement onboard? particularly those parts of the movement, i guess, that are pretty heavily invested in the fossil fuel economy. because that's where we start to see the big clashes. >> i think it's a question of educating at the front line level. it's challenging, the misconceptions that are controlled by mass media in this country, the controlled communication has put forward that fighting for our environment is incompatible with fighting for good jobs. we actually can fight for good jobs, for jobs that keel with the question of -- that deal with the question of having clean energy, renewable energy,
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that have transportation that is accessible to all like they're fighting in brazil instead of building soccer stadiums, although i love the world cup. [laughter] but the average brazilian could not afford to go to the games. but they can be, jobs can be created in retrofitting buildings, in creating new forms of energy, in creating transportation that is clean, in creating a new society where the determining factor is not profit, but the determining factor is the well being of every living thing on earth, not just human beings. [applause] >> uh-huh, thank you. because you work with health care workers in particular, i wanted to also ask you of the many crises that this country faces, a big one is the lack of
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an equitable health care system. and it continues post-obamacare. and as a canadian and someone who's lucky enough to come from a country that, you know, has something like universal health care, i've been repeatedly shocked when covering disasters in the united states -- hurricane katrina and also sandy -- to see how this already-dysfunctional health care system becomes so much more dysfunctional in the midst of a crisis. i mean, i had an extraordinary experience when i was in new orleans where we got into a car accident, um, in downtown new orleans. my friend jeremy scahill is here and jordan is here, who was in the car. and jordan and i -- now, if you remember the imagery during hurricane katrina that we all saw of how people desperately
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needed health care, and, you know, they were dehydrated, they were hungry, they turned the hospital into this makeshift first aid clinic, right? well, we got into this car accident in downtown new orleans, and we -- it's a long story. but jordan and i were taken to a hospital, and it was empty and beautiful and private. and it was the strangest experience because there were all of these doctors and nurses there. they weren't doing anything in the middle of a disaster. and this young intern was caring for me, and i said so have you gone to any of the shelters. he said, oh, i hadn't thought of that. [laughter] so i want to ask you, how does climate change impact struggle for real universal health care in this country? >> if climate change comets uncontrolled -- continues
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uncontrolled, we will see and i believe the number of organizations and world health organization have spoken about the increase of some diseases, and we are witnesses what is happening in africa with the ebola crisis. and there is something else going in the caribbean, a chicken fever which has not made the front pages of the newspapers, but it has spread throughout the caribbean. i think in terms of the united states despite obamacare or the affordable care act, there's still millions of people in this country without health care. if you're an undocumented worker, you are not covered by the affordable care act. right here in the city the d. of health just -- the department of health just released a recent study that all the hospitals in new york were totally unprepared for the crisis that sandy created in terms of health care. so one of the things that we are
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raising is that here in new york over the last ten years 12 hospitals have been closed. and the closing of hospitals because of the question of profit, whether you can pay for health care or not, in case of another disaster similar to sandy will put into evidence that there has to be also additional changes, profound changes in the delivery of health care. health care should not be for the wealthy, health care should be for everyone. and one interesting fact recently is this issue of the death of joan rivers, the comedienne. she was getting treatment in one of those for-profit care facilities, and she died, and her death was front page news. but the issue of lack of medical
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care and sometimes errors in delivery of care kill other people, black and latinos and asians and whites and poor working people, and they don't make the front page of "the new york times" or the daily news. [applause] so i think in part of this fight for environmental justice, we are finding ourselves in a new collision, and sunday will be the rising call of that coalition, that fighting for the environment is also fighting for decent jobs is also fighting for quality health care for all, and it's also fighting for equality for all people many this society. >> thank you so much. [applause] i want to turn it over to clay. i would love, clay, for you to talk about the issue of climate
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change and the fight to prevent catastrophic warming is intersectioning with the resurgent indigenous rights movement that we're seeing around the world and in canada. we saw it with, i don't know, more has spread. and i just -- you don't need much prompting from me. before i threw it over to you, i want to acknowledge that i think we've got a lot of people here from the indigenous delegation, and in particular i'm really so happy that tom goldtooth is here from the indigenous environmental network, founder, director. [applause] been such a, an intellectual leader in taking us beyond just the issue and pointing us toward the fact that this -- when we
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say it's a civilizational walk-up call, it's about the fact we need a shift in world view. and i'd love for you to talk about how, how you see that world view as it relates to climate change, that world view shift. >> yeah. so just a whisper now. when i say idle, you say no more. idle. >> no more. >> just whisper. idle, idle. idle. a little louder. idle. >> no more. >> idle. >> no more. >> that's good enough. [laughter] you know, what's really important to understand in canada, you know, which is a member of the elite g8 club, you know, and we're one of the the biggest providers of energy to military superpowers. united states, soon china through the bilateral free trade agreement that harper just signed and ratified a week
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before his trip to china as well as the comprehensive economic trade agreement with the european union which has also been signed but not ratified yet, you know, there is a agenda afoot that's being led by our extremist government to really, you know, lock canada in to becoming this, somewhat of this resource colony to military superpowers across the planet. and, you know, that's not to say that canada isn't an imperialist power in its own right, because they also have bilateral free trade agreements with a lot of countries in the global south like peru and others where canada is acting as the raider of the treasure chest, so to speak. and stuck in the midst of all of this geopolitical bs is, of course, indigenous peoples and our sovereignty movement and our fight to protect the sacredness
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of mother earth, our fight to protect our sacred waters from the agenda of big oil, places like the tar sands. and i think the important thing to understand about idle no more is it's the same manifestation of the same spirit of resistance that has been, you know, going on through the generations since colonization of our lands began. i think that the difference, though, between this moment in time that social movements, age ding now social movements in -- indigenous social movements in canada are seeing is idle no more came from our women, our native women, you know? [applause] and it was birthed from a place, it was birthed from a place of that sacred feminine creative principle which is the place where all of our discussions, our strategies, our tactics around politics, around economy, around our social systems and our spiritual systems need to be coming from.
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because there's a great imbalance -- [applause] yeah. because there's a great imbalance, you know? there's a great imbalance. and i think that a lot of that imbalance comes from, you know, white men in power, and i think that, you know, in our people of color and indigenous movements even us brown men have internalized a lot of that. and it plays out in really screwed-up ways in our movement. so idle no more is a very inspiring thing that has got the government of canada and prime minister harper quaking in their hearts. they're afraid of it. and that's why we see this bonanza of leasing sales, a mining renaissance spreading across indigenous lands, expansion of the canadian tar sands, half a dozen megapipelines. you think the keystone xl's bad, have you heard of the energy east? it's a 1.1 million barrel-per-day pupilline they want to build from alberta to atlantic, canada, across 185
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first nations'er the stories. -- territories. and, you know, i think that that is the reality of it. but one thing that we have on our side that's exciting, and i want to kind of jump off the just transition piece and the excitement of organized labor getting involved in the fight for climate justice. you know, this issue of jobs versus the environment, there has been hundreds of millions of dollars if not billions of dollars invested into making you all think that it's either have a job or have a healthy environment. okay? and this is one of those moments in time in canada where we see the emergence of the social movement partnership of the 23st century -- 21st century which has big oil and has the federal government of canada quaking in their books, and that is the indigenous peoples, the original titleholders of all of the land. that's not to say that we're owning it in the western context, but we are responsible for it, to ache care of -- to
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take care of it for our future generations. those people, those social movements uniting with workers of our country whose lives are inextricably linked to the development of resources in our lands, this is a place where we are going to see incredible power wielded against the neoliberal free market agenda. and this is something that has caused the establishment to quickly spin out all kinds of initiatives to try and, you know, keep the status quo at bay. a month ago we had the canadian social forum where we saw organized labor, idle no more activists, other indigenous social movement representatives, the quebec student striker movements. have you heard about the quebec student strikers? [applause] they put a half a million students on the street and dethroned a three-term charade government and educated an entire generation of quebec youth about the bs of the
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austerity agenda, you know? and i think that, you know, the exciting moment that we have right now in canada is there's only 30 million people in our country. and, you know, there's two million native people, 75% of those native people are under the age of 30. 55% under the age of 25. and in our cree way, you know, we reference this moment in time as the emergence of prophesy, because we have a prophesy called the season generation prophesy that -- the seven generation prophesy that talks about a generation of our people born free from the shackles of the colonial mind and lead us to a better place. and that's the moment that we're in right now, and it's come from a place of that sacred feminine creative principle to repair and fix the imbalance that we as members of the five-finger nation are facing right now and to put us back into that sacred circle of life, not separate above it, dominating it and destroying it. [applause]
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>> thank you so much, clay. esperanza, first of all, thank you for being here, and i want to thank your translator, whose name i forget, tell me -- >> cassandra. >> cassandra, the translator. esperanza understands us perfectly, but she is going to speak in spanish because that is her language, and she wants to. we welcome that. [applause] thank you, esperanza. esperanza's quoted i think more than anyone else in my book. [laughter] this space called blockade, the blocking of the pipelines, this movement that is really about keeping the carbon in the ground, that movement wasn't born here.
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and, you know, in the book i talk about if we, you know, if we wanted to just choose a place, maybe we could say nigeria, the the niger delta and the fight against shell that kicked shell out of the territory. and people think they didn't know about climate change. nigerians in the '90s called one of their largest protests operation climate change. and i learned that, actually, by reading a book that esperanza helped ed kit. and, of course -- edit. and, of course, the fight in ec what with door to -- ecuador to keep the oil underground in the amazon is, has been at the forefront of the keep the carbon in the ground model. and, you know, one of the quotes that you have in the box is very simple -- in the book is very simple, why should we sacrifice new areas if fossil fuels should not be extracted in the first place, which is a very good question.
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the concept of climate debt says, yes, let's leave the oil underground. but in leafing the -- leaving the oil under the amazon, that should be recognized as a contribution to the world, and there should not be a choice, a false choice between the right to education, the right to health care, the right to jobs, the right to electricity and keeping that carbon in the ground. can you explain to us the concept as you see it of climate debt and ecological debt? i guess i'll put the question to you another way which is eduardo galeano talks about how we live in a world upside down. could climate change turn the world right side up? >> [speaking spanish]
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[applause] >> translator: thank you very much. i'm going to speak in spanish, and i will speak slowly because i know many of you understand spanish, and for those of you who don't, cassandra's going to help you out. >> [speaking spanish] [speaking spanish] >> translator: first of all, i'd like to quickly do a recap of
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what ecological debt is. ecological debt is much more than just the historic debt of the north to the global south. certainly, it also includes the debt that the process of colonialism has generated and continues to generate as well as unequal and unfair trade. but it's larger than that. ecological debt also encompasses the debt that capital itself has with nature. [speaking spanish]
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>> [speaking spanish] >> translator: so when we think about what has really sustained capital and the capitalist model, and when we start to scratch at it and try and get to the nitty-gritty of it all, we rapidly come across oil.
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oil as the heart, the pulsating heart of the process of accumulation of capital. and oil is also what is really the subtext of ecological debt and climate debt. and, of course, oil isn't just about accumulating capital, it's also very much the subtext of war, corruption, geopolitical blackmail, lack of healthiness and health care and the giant, unsustainable, monstrous cities full of garbage. [applause] >> [speaking spanish]
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[speaking spanish] >> translator: so if we want to talk about climate debt and how we are going to address climate change, well, we gotta stop burning oil, we need to free ourselves from the addiction to fossil fuels and oil. it's not that oil is bad in and of itself, but it is the
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extractive model and the model of consumption of oil that doesn't respect the natural cycles of our planet and just cannot continue. >> [speaking spanish] [speaking spanish] [laughter] [speaking spanish]
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[applause] >> translator: all right. so the -- [laughter] amazonian world view of oil is that oil is the blood of mother earth, and many indigenous peoples of the amazon also feel that oil is the blood of their ancestors who have gone back to the earth and become stone and oil. and more other indigenous peoples, oil is the blood of kwan kwan who is a giant underground being with an enormous penis that makes love to the rest of mother earth and that oil is, in fact, very erotic stuff.
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>> [speaking spanish] [speaking spanish] [speaking spanish]
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[applause] [speaking spanish] >> translator: so lastly i'd just like to say that, of course, oil has a great deal to do with ecological debt and climate debt, but it also has a great deal to do with democracy. from time to time, we go through the charade of supposedly
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participating in decision making, we vote for a candidate who most times than not disappoints us. .. those decisions we have been marginalized from, but i'd like
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to conclude by saying specifically in case of ecuador, we are very blessed this evening to have the use of ecuador with us who organized, a play on the word of the national park, and it also means united. these inspiring young people invited the ecuadorian society to make the decision about whether to extract oil from the amazon, and whether we should -- they collected hundreds of thousands of signatures and organized a referendum. and the majority of the people of ecuador said no. let's save them. [applause]
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>> know, i think what esperanza is described is really important to understand just how powerful the environment of the arts of the global self on. because so often we hear this argument, it doesn't matter what we do. china and india and brazil and so on. in china they are literally choking on climate change but they are literally choking on coal dust. there such a vibrant debate going on in china about the real cost of economic growth. a lot more advanced where you can barely talk about it here. and this attention between the government and this massive grassroots movement in ecuador is just one example of the strength of that push back end of that vision. let's keep that in mind when we hear that argument that it doesn't matter what we do. we have to find more ways i think


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